HomeNewsBata in ugly $1 million labour row

Bata in ugly $1 million labour row

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GWERU shoemaker, Bata has approached the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) in a bid to avoid a close to $1 million labour lawsuit by its former workers fired on three months’ notice.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA

Bata, which is being haunted by 61 former workers it fired in November 2015, who are demanding $719 815 in compensation for loss of employment, wants the ConCourt to outlaw the Labour Amendment Act of 2015.

The Act, which was effected retrospectively, was used by Edison Mlambo and 60 others to demand and win an award for compensation of loss of employment through their lawyers, Mawadze and Mujaya.

Bata, in case number CCZ30/16, is seeking to have the court outlaw the amendment, which will see the workers dismissed on three months’ notice going home empty-handed.

Through its lawyer, Thabani Mpofu, Bata argues that it is illegal to effect laws in retrospect.

In his founding affidavit, company secretary, David Zashura said the law gave a financial obligation, which the employer did not have prior to the amendment.

“The difficulty with the impugned section of the amendment (section 18), however, is that the foregoing has been made to operate retroactively. It is made retrospective to July 17, 2015. It imposes a financial obligation, which did not exist as at July 17. In doing so, it seeks to take advantage of the well-known position … in a manner, which interferes with vested right,” Zashura submitted.

Zashura, through Bata’s lawyers, said the amendment was in violation of the law and should, therefore, be declared null and void.

“It is contrary to the Constitution both in its purport and effect and ought for that reason to be held wholly void,” he submitted.

The workers, through Mlambo, have, however, since opposed the ConCourt application, arguing it was justified at law.

“As it stands, the Supreme Court ruling left all employees at the mercy of the employers; whether one could be thanked or paid everything remained a prerogative of the employer. The retrospective application is, therefore, justified as it seeks to avoid the one-sided state of affairs,” he submitted. The labour award has been stayed until the matter is heard at the ConCourt.

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